Joan Caulfield

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Joan Caulfield
Joan Caulfield Sept 1941.jpg
September 1941 McCall's Magazine cover image of Joan Caulfield
Born Beatrice Joan Caulfield
(1922-06-01)June 1, 1922
West Orange, New Jersey, USA
Died June 18, 1991(1991-06-18) (aged 69)
Los Angeles, California, USA
Years active 1946–1987
Spouse(s) Dr. Robert Peterson (1960–1966) (divorced) son
Frank Ross (1950–1960) (divorced) son

Joan Caulfield (June 1, 1922 – June 18, 1991) was an American actress and former fashion model. After being discovered by Broadway producers, she began a stage career in 1943 that eventually led to signing as an actress with Paramount Pictures.

Early years[edit]

Born Beatrice Joan Caulfield while her family resided in East Orange, New Jersey,[1] she moved to West Orange during childhood[2] but continued attending Miss Beard's School in Orange, New Jersey.[3] During her teenage years, the family moved to New York City where Joan eventually attended Columbia University.

Caulfield was the niece of Genevieve Caulfield, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 for her work with blind children.[4]

While at Columbia, Caulfield was active in many plays presented by the university's drama group. She also ventured into being a model with the Harry Conover Agency and "became a favorite with top-drawer fashion magazines," with her pictures appearing in many national magazines,[5] including being on the cover of Life magazine's May 11, 1942, issue.[6]


Caulfield appeared on Broadway in Beat the Band in 1942.[7] She had a great success portraying the troublesome teenager Corliss Archer in the 1943 hit comedy play Kiss and Tell. After a year in the role she left the production to pursue offers from Hollywood and she was replaced by her sister Betty Caulfield.


"For several years she was among Paramount's top stars, radiating delicate femininity and demure beauty but rarely much else."[1] One of Caulfield's most memorable film roles was when she was loaned out to Warner Bros. to appear in The Unsuspected (1947) alongside Claude Rains and Audrey Totter.


Being the subject of an episode of This Is Your Life brought Caulfield to the attention of television executives. In the words of a newspaper writer, "She photographed so beautifully that the show was hardly over before she was being approached for television appearances."[8] She appeared on programs such as Cheyenne, Baretta, and Murder, She Wrote, with Angela Lansbury. In the 1957–1958 season, Caulfield starred in her own short-lived NBC situation comedy, Sally in the role of a traveling companion to an elderly widow, played by Marion Lorne. At midseason, Gale Gordon and Arte Johnson joined the cast.[9] Earlier, in the 1953 and 1954 seasons,[5] she had co-starred with Barry Nelson in the television version of My Favorite Husband.[8]

In 1967 she starred in the western T.V. series The High Chaparral as Annalee Cannon on the pilot episode of the series. She was murdered in the series and that was the premise for the whole plot.

Later years[edit]

In the 1960s and 1970s, Caulfield was active in touring companies of plays, summer stock theater and dinner theater "across the country."[5]


Caulfield has a star at 1500 Vine Street in the Television section of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was dedicated February 8, 1960.[10]

Cultural legacy[edit]

An urban legend states that Caulfield's film Dear Ruth (1947) inspired author J.D. Salinger to name the protagonist of his novel The Catcher in the Rye (1951) "Holden Caulfield" after seeing a movie theater marquee with the film's stars: Caulfield and William Holden. However, Holden Caulfield was mentioned in Salinger's short story "Last Day of the Last Furlough" in the July 15, 1944 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, three years before Dear Ruth.[11] The earliest known use of the Caulfield name, including a mention of Holden, is in the unpublished 1942 story "The Last and Best of the Peter Pans."[12] A more common version of the legend claims that Salinger was taken by Joan Caulfield upon first seeing her in a modeling photo or a publicity still or an acting performance.[13][14] Since Joan was a leading model by 1941 and her acting career began in 1942 with an appearance in the short-lived Broadway musical Beat the Band,[15] this version of the legend makes his using her surname for his character at least possible.

Personal life[edit]

In 1950, Caulfield married the film producer Frank Ross, with whom she had a son, Caulfield Kevin Ross. She and Ross were divorced in 1960.[16] She later married Robert Peterson, a dentist, with whom she had her second son, John Caulfield Peterson. Her second marriage ended in divorce as well.


Caulfield died, aged 69, from cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and had lived in Beverly Hills, California.[2]

At the time of her death, she had one grandchild. She died within 24 hours of actress Jean Arthur, the first wife of her husband Frank Ross, Jr. Arthur had been married to Ross in 1932, and they divorced in 1949.

Selected filmography[edit]

Radio appearances[edit]

Year Program Episode/source
1946 Lux Radio Theatre Miss Susie Slagle's[19]


  1. ^ a b Katz, Ephraim (1979). The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume. Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-50601-2. P. 218.
  2. ^ a b Fowler, Glenn. "Joan Caulfield, A Film Actress, Is Dead at 69", The New York Times, June 20, 1991. Accessed October 23, 2007.
  3. ^ Joan Caulfield, Actress, Obituaries Today. Accessed October 23, 2007. "At Miss Beard’s, a local private school, Joan made her stage debut in A Kiss for Cinderella."
  4. ^ Moss, Ruth (October 20, 1963). "She Proves the Blind Can Lead the Blind!". Chicago Tribune. p. 2-Section 5. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c "Joan Caulfield To Shine At Hayloft". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. July 23, 1972. p. 80. Retrieved September 30, 2015 – via  open access publication - free to read
  6. ^ "Model Becomes Broadway Actress". Life. April 12, 1943. p. 46. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  7. ^ "Joan Caulfield". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "A Style Show With Joan Caulfield". The Times. July 6, 1957. p. 11. Retrieved September 30, 2015 – via  open access publication - free to read
  9. ^ "Sally". Classic TV Archives. Retrieved September 11, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Joan Caulfield". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  11. ^ Saturday Evening Post, July 15, 1944
  12. ^
  13. ^ Richler, Mordecai. "SUMMER READING; RISES AT DAWN, WRITES, THEN RETIRES", The New York Times, June 5, 1988. Accessed October 23, 2007. "We are told, for instance, that the name Holden Caulfield probably came from joining the name of a boyhood friend called Holden to that of the movie actress Joan Caulfield, on whom Mr. Salinger once had a crush."
  14. ^ Honan, William H. "Shylock To Sherlock A Study In Names", The New York Times, February 9, 1997. Accessed October 23, 2007. "J. D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield, he said, resulted from the writer's combining the last names of a friend named Holden and the actress Joan Caulfield."
  15. ^
  16. ^ Scott, Vernon (December 6, 1959). "Joan Caulfield, Real Life Soap Opera Heroine". Chicago Tribune. p. 3D. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  17. ^ Anderson, Nancy (January 24, 1975). "Trappings of stardom tempted Joan Caulfield". Valley Morning Star. p. 16. Retrieved October 1, 2015 – via  open access publication - free to read
  18. ^ a b Johnson, Erskine (August 1, 1949). "'New' Joan Caulfield Has Curvaceous Petty Girl Role". Dixon Evening Telegraph. p. 7. Retrieved September 30, 2015 – via  open access publication - free to read
  19. ^ "Lux Star". Harrisburg Telegraph. October 19, 1946. p. 17. Retrieved September 29, 2015 – via  open access publication - free to read

External links[edit]